LOS ANGELES (AP) — The president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP resigned Thursday, following outrage over a decision he later reversed to give Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling an award for promoting civil rights.

Leon Jenkins was to honor Sterling later this month, but rescinded that offer Monday after a recording surfaced over the weekend on which Sterling disparaged black men.

In a letter to the national leader of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, Jenkins wrote that he resigned “to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused.”

A telephone message and email seeking comment after business hours from the Los Angeles chapter were not immediately returned.

Even before the recording, the decision to give Sterling a “lifetime achievement award” May 15 at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Los Angeles chapter had been questioned by some civil rights activists, who cited allegations of discrimination in Sterling’s past.

The U.S. Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006, alleging housing discrimination in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle allegations that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks.

Also in 2009, the year after Jenkins was first elected president in Los Angeles, the chapter first honored Sterling with a similar achievement award.

Branches of the NAACP — there are more than 50 in California alone — operate with considerable autonomy. In a statement accompanying the resignation announcement, the national NAACP said it is “developing guidelines for its branches to help them in their award selection process.”

Jenkins said that Sterling had been selected owing to his history of donating to minority charities and giving game tickets to inner-city children. The Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation gave $5,000 to the NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter in 2010, according to tax records. There were no further NAACP contributions in subsequent years for which records were available.

After the recording of Sterling having a private conversation with a woman became public, Jenkins backtracked.

“There is a personal, economic and social price that Mr. Sterling must pay for his attempt to turn back the clock on race relations,” he said Monday.

On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the league for life, fined the real estate magnate $2.5 million, and said he wanted the league’s board of governors to make Sterling sell the team.

Sterling is the NBA’s longest-tenured owner. He is also among the league’s least successful, though in recent years the Clippers have surged. News of Jenkins’ resignation broke an hour before the Clippers tipped off against the Golden State Warriors in a first-round playoff game.

Reacting to the announcement, local activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson said the NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter needed to become “fully transparent and accountable to its members and community and not to dubious corporate donors.”

Jenkins had his own legal problems, which also came into focus this week. For years, he has been banned from practicing law in California based on allegations of corruption when he was a young judge in Detroit.

In 1988, federal prosecutors charged Jenkins with extortion and racketeering conspiracy, saying he requested and received money, jewelry, a handgun and other gifts to dismiss traffic tickets and other misdemeanors. While Jenkins was acquitted after two trials, in 1991 the Michigan Supreme Court removed him as a judge.

He had “systematically and routinely sold his office and his public trust,” then-Chief Justice Michael Cavanagh said at the time.

In April, three judges with California’s State Bar Court denied Jenkins’ most recent request to practice law again. The judges lauded Jenkins’ volunteer work with the NAACP and other organizations, but they cited several instances in which they said he misrepresented his finances or other aspects of his personal life.

“Despite Jenkins’ impressive good character evidence and community service, he continues to commit errors in judgment that call into question his rehabilitation and present good moral character,” the judges wrote.

(Photo: AP)

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13 thoughts on “NAACP L.A. Head Resigns Over Sterling Controversy

  1. When the black man traveled to South America he didn’t come back with a banana business he came back with 2-3 women..Lol You should be doing business. Then he visited Asia came back home to America & ordered Chinese food in his neighborhood…Lol While he was eating Chinese food the white man said hey now listen you’ve got go to war.. black man says I’ll be the best solider you’ve ever had..now what we fighting for? Come home from the war turns on the TV & watch sports exclaiming I love those guys that’s my man he rich! Now if i know this without a masters degree how much does one know who has a masters degree? Run business I know you can do it..you can jump right thru the red tape!

  2. Ontyme on said:

    More will come out from this. NAACP knew of his antics and continued to deal with him. Taking the scraps. Leon isn’t the only one. Watch.

  3. Our black celebrities with other black business leaders should get together build housing..buy up acres & acres of land for US..but no you people too worried about playing sports & how cute you are in that dress..Scandal & such. Stop being vain..No no you want the gov’t to provide housing for our people. Look at Walmart for instance how they do that? Working together..Stop asking for Job when you’ve got buddies with degrees & a little bit of money to start up a Walmart…call it something else..but no No you don’t want to be the boss unless it’s Hip Hop or Sports. We need supermarkets especially in urban areas. Black folk cry out to the white man why didn’t you build a supermarket in our town? Like he owe you something! He can build were ever the heck he want..so can you.Buy land build projects build housing…create medicare create a welfare for us..but No no you want the gov’t to do it..I know you smarter than me & got more money than me that’s why I’m asking. Why can’t you buy or farm a Orange tree field? White folk go around the world & they claim a mountain spewing delicious spring water…No how can a corporation claim what belongs to all..They make up laws..you too busy playing sports & crying about slavery while driving in your $400K vehicle! Vanity!! 4 sure Solomon was Black that’s 4 sure.

    • Jiggy5 on said:

      The government be our daddy, that’s how we roll. Done it for generations now, ain’t gonna stop anytime soon.

      • Joy on said:

        Hey Jiggy so you don’t know very many successful Black people huh? I don’t know…..I’m just asking. I know lots of highly successful Black people (I could go into details but I won’t). Depends on the company you keep…..and your comment suggests you know lots of people depending on the government. Not all Black people are looking to the government to save them. Stop sterio-typing!!

    • Joy on said:

      Alberta you made some great points that a lot of us already know (including ballers, celebs, and other wealthy African Americans); but for some reason no one ever does anything about it except a few people like Magic. I’ve never understood why we’ve never taken entrepreneurship seriously. One of the reasons is when you weren’t raised with money, and then obtain it….you don’t know what to do with it because most people’s parents didn’t have money so they didn’t teach their kids about money.

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